Gene Simmons
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Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons 2012.jpg
Simmons in Los Angeles, California, on October 15, 2012
Background information
Chaim Witz
  • The Demon
  • The God of Thunder
  • Dr. Love
  • Reginald Van Helsing
Born (1949-08-25) August 25, 1949 (age 68)
Tirat Carmel, Haifa, Israel
Genres Heavy metal, hard rock
Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, entrepreneur, teacher, reality star, assistant editor
Instruments Vocals, bass

Gene Klein, born Chaim Witz (Hebrew: ? ?, [xa'im 'vit?s], born August 25, 1949), known professionally as Gene Simmons, is an Israeli-American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, actor, author and television personality. Also known by his stage persona The Demon, he is the bassist and co-lead singer of Kiss, the rock band he co-founded with lead singer and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley in the early 1970s.

Life and career

Early life

Born Chaim Witz on August 25, 1949, at Rambam Hospital, in Haifa, Israel, Simmons immigrated with his mother to New York City when he was eight. Simmons was raised in a Jewish household, where he practiced playing his guitar for hours on end.[1] His mother, Florence Klein (originally Flra Kovcs), was born in Jnd, Hungary. Simmons' mother survived internment in Nazi concentration camps.[2] She and her brother, Larry Klein, were the only members of the family to survive the Holocaust.

Simmons' father, Ferenc Witz, also Hungarian-born, remained in Israel, where he had one other son and three daughters, and worked as a carpenter. Simmons says the family was "dirt poor", scraping by on bread and milk.[3] In the United States, Simmons changed his name to Eugene Klein (later Gene Klein), adopting his mother's maiden name.[] Before his musical career began, Simmons worked a variety of jobs in the city. An "excellent typist", he served as an assistant to an editor of the fashion magazine Vogue, and also spent several months as a sixth grade instructor on the Upper West Side.[4]

A significant influence on Simmons was the Beatles. "There is no way I'd be doing what I do now if it wasn't for The Beatles. I was watching The Ed Sullivan Show and I saw them. Those skinny little boys, kind of androgynous, with long hair like girls. It blew me away that these four boys [from] the middle of nowhere could make that music."[5]


Gene Simmons as "The Demon", 2010

Simmons became involved with his first band, Lynx, then renamed The Missing Links, when he was a teenager. Eventually, he disbanded the band to form The Long Island Sounds, the name being a pun on Long Island Sound. While he played in these bands, he worked at odd jobs on the side to make more money, including trading used comic books. Simmons attended Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, New York. He joined a new band, Bullfrog Bheer, and the band recorded a demo, "Leeta"; this was later included on the Kiss box set.[]

Simmons formed the rock band Wicked Lester in the early 1970s with Stanley Eisen (now known as Paul Stanley) and recorded one album, which was never released. Dissatisfied with Wicked Lester's sound and look, Simmons and Stanley attempted to fire their band members; they were met with resistance, and they quit Wicked Lester, walking away from their record deal with Epic Records. They decided to form the "ultimate rock band", and started looking for a drummer. Simmons and Stanley found an ad placed by George Peter John Criscuola (known as Peter Criss) who was playing clubs in Brooklyn at the time; they joined and started out as a trio.

During this time, Criss and Simmons also appeared on an unreleased album by Captain Sanity together with members from Criss' previous band Chelsea. Paul Frehley (better known as Ace Frehley) responded to an ad they put in The Village Voice for a lead guitar player, and soon joined them. Kiss released their self-titled debut album in February 1974. Stanley took on the role of lead performer on stage, while Simmons became the driving force behind what became an extensive Kiss merchandising franchise. The eye section of his "Demon" makeup with Kiss came from the wing design of comic book character Black Bolt.[6]

Simmons' 'The Demon' make-up

In 1983, when the fame of Kiss was waning, the members took off their trademark make-up and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity that continued into the 1990s. At this time, Peter Criss, the original drummer, was voted out of the band, and a replacement was sought to fill his vacancy. The new drummer was Paul Charles Caravello, who went by the stage name of Eric Carr, and played for Kiss from 1980 until his death in 1991. The band hosted its own fan conventions in 1995, and fan feedback about the original Kiss members reunion influenced the highly successful 1996-1997 Alive Worldwide reunion tour. In 1998, the band released Psycho Circus. Since then, the original line-up has once again dissolved, with Tommy Thayer replacing Ace Frehley on lead guitar and Eric Singer (who performed with Kiss from 1991 through 1996) replacing Peter Criss on drums.

Playing style

In most Kiss songs, lead vocals are performed by lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley, but there are some exceptions in which Simmons sings lead vocals, such as "Rock and Roll All Nite", "A World Without Heroes", "I Love It Loud", "Calling Dr. Love", "Unholy", "Spit" (second lead vocals), "Boomerang", and "You Wanted the Best" (first lead vocals), among others.

Stage makeup and persona

In addition to playing bass, Simmons is known for his large tongue and on stage is known for his demonic figure by spitting fire and vomiting stage blood.

During an interview in 1999, Simmons was asked about the source and significance of Kiss' stage makeup and personas:

I've always been a fan of Americana, and Americana has always been about imagery, often above content. I think there's nothing wrong with that. The world worships this culture. Most people only think about America in terms of rock & roll, movies and television. Kiss is very all-American, in the sense that our constituency has never had anything in common with critics ... because our power, our lifeblood, our very reason for existence is our fans. Without them, we'd be nothing.

Personal life

Gene Simmons fire breathing.

Simmons is a science fiction and comic book fan and published several science fiction fanzines, among them Id, Cosmos (which eventually merged with Stilletto to become Cosmos-Stilletto and then Faun), Tinderbox, Sci-Fi Showcase, Mantis and Adventure. He also contributed to other fanzines, among them BeABohema and Sirruish.[7] By 1977, however, he would write in a letter of comment to Janus, "I haven't been active [in fandom] for about five years".[8]

Simmons lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, Canadian former Playboy Playmate and actress Shannon Lee Tweed. Although they began dating in 1983, they did not marry until 28 years later.[9] Simmons often joked that he and Tweed were "happily unmarried" for over 20 years. He also often stated, "Marriage is an institution, and I don't want to live in an institution". Simmons and Tweed wed on October 1, 2011, at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills.[9][10][11] They have two children: a son, Nick (born January 22, 1989), and a daughter, Sophie (born July 7, 1992). He formerly had live-in relationships with Cher and Diana Ross,[12] revealing that he fell in love with Ross while dating Cher.[13] Simmons can speak Hungarian, German, English, Hebrew and some Japanese.[12]

Homecoming visit to Israel

In March 2011, Simmons visited his home country, Israel. He described the trip as a "life changing experience". He talked about how he still feels that he is an Israeli: "I'm Israeli. I'm a stranger in America. I'm an outsider".[14] While there, Simmons met his half-brother Kobi, and triplet half-sisters Drora, Sharon, and Ogenia.[15] Simmons has plans to take Kiss to Israel. He has said that he is an ardent supporter of Israel.[16] At a press conference in Israel, he spoke in both Hebrew and English.[17]

Political views

Simmons was a supporter of the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration.[18] He supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, writing on his website: "I'm ashamed to be surrounded by people calling themselves liberal who are, in my opinion, spitting on the graves of brave American soldiers who gave their life to fight a war that wasn't theirs... in a country they've never been to... simply to liberate the people therein".[19] In a follow-up, Simmons explained his position and wrote about his love and support for the United States: "I wasn't born here. But I have a love for this country and its people that knows no bounds. I will forever be grateful to America for going into World War II, when it had nothing to gain, in a country that was far away... and rescued my mother from the Nazi German concentration camps. She is alive and I am alive because of America. And, if you have a problem with America, you have a problem with me".[19]

During the 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and Lebanon, Simmons sent a televised message of support (in both English and Hebrew) to an Israeli soldier seriously wounded in fighting in Lebanon, calling him his "hero".[20]

In 2010, Simmons said he regretted voting for Barack Obama and criticized the 2009 health care reforms.[21] Following Obama's 2011 speech on the Middle East, in which the President called on Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a settlement "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps",[22] Simmons told CNBC that Obama was gravely misguided. "If you have never been to the moon, you can't issue policy about the moon. For the president to be sitting in Washington D.C. and saying, 'Go back to your '67 borders in Israel' - how about you live there and try to defend an indefensible border - nine miles (14 km) wide?" Simmons also accused the United Nations of being "the most pathetic body on the face of the earth".[23]

During his visit to Israel in 2011, he stated that the artists refusing to perform in Israel for political reasons are "stupid".[24]

In an April 2012 interview, Simmons endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for President, stating that "America should be in business and it should be run by a businessman".[25]

On 6 November 2015 he attended a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces gala in Beverly Hills, which raised more than $31 million.[26]


Gene Simmons is a known advocate for ChildFund International's work. He traveled to Zambia during his Gene Simmons Family Jewels show to visit several of his sponsored children, of whom he has more than 1400.[27] Simmons said that the trip "[was] a stark reminder that life doesn't treat everyone the same".[28]

Simmons' family received the MEND Humanitarian Award for their philanthropic efforts and support for Mending Kids International at the organization's annual gala on November 9, 2013. The award was presented by Mel Gibson.[29] In his acceptance speech, Simmons spoke of his own difficult childhood in Israel in a bullet-riddled house. He recalled his mother's excitement when they received a CARE box one day.[30]

Simmons helped found "The Children Matter", which is a collaborative initiative with the charity MATTER that fights to get kids around the world access to health care.[31]


On November 16, 2017, Simmons made an appearance on Fox & Friends to promote a new book, but shortly afterward, he burst into a staff meeting uninvited by yanking his shirt and telling jokes. The next day, on November 17, Fox News announced that Simmons had been banned for life from their program.[32][33][34]

Other projects

On August 15, 2013, Simmons, Paul Stanley and manager Doc McGhee became a part of the ownership group that created the LA Kiss Arena Football League team, which plays their home games at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The team has since folded.

He has his own magazine, Gene Simmons Tongue Magazine, his own label, Simmons Records, and animated series, My Dad the Rock Star.

Public statements and image


In February 2002, Simmons was interviewed on the NPR radio show Fresh Air and asked about his claim of having had sex with 4,600 women. He told Terry Gross: "If you want to welcome me with open arms, I'm afraid you're also going to have to welcome me with open legs", paraphrasing a lyric from The Who's 1981 song "You Better You Bet". Gross replied: "That's a really obnoxious thing to say". At the time, Simmons refused to grant permission to NPR to make the interview available online.[35] However, it appears in print in Gross's book All I Did Was Ask and unauthorized transcripts are available. NPR re-broadcast part of the interview in August 2007.[36] In a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post, Simmons noted he was upset over what he perceived as Gross's "holier-than-thou" attitude, which included mislabeling his band Kiss as "The Kiss".[37]

Islam comments in Australia

In 2004, during an interview in Melbourne, Australia, while talking about Islamic extremists, Simmons described Islam as a "vile culture", saying that Muslim women had to walk behind their husbands, were not allowed to be educated or to own houses. He said: "They want to come and live right where you live and they think that you're evil." Australia's Muslim of the Year Susan Carland argued that Simmons' stereotyping of Muslims was inaccurate.[38] Simmons later clarified his comments on his website, saying he had been talking specifically about Muslim extremists.[39]

Defamation lawsuit by former girlfriend

In 2005, Simmons was sued by a former girlfriend, Georgeann Walsh Ward, who said she had been "defamed" in the VH1 documentary When Kiss Ruled the World and portrayed as an "unchaste woman".[40] A settlement was reached in June 2006.[41]

Views on musical piracy

In 2007, Simmons openly spoke out against music piracy, and called for file-sharers to be sued.[42] A year later, he threatened further lawsuits, and to withhold new recordings, if file-sharing continued. In 2010, Anonymous staged a DDoS on his website, prompting Simmons to hit back with provocative comments once he was back online, at which point Anonymous staged a second DDoS, taking Simmons' site down again.[43]

Sex tape scandal

In 2008, a video on the Internet surfaced which purported to be Simmons engaging in sexual activity with an unnamed woman.[44] Simmons later stated that the tape was recorded without his consent or knowledge and that his legal team was pursuing legal options including copyright infringement.[45]

Comments on suicide and depression

In August 2014, Simmons made comments in an interview with that seemed to openly encourage people with depression to kill themselves. The comments drew criticism from Nikki Sixx of Mtley Cre who had suffered from depression in the past.[46] Following his comments both Triple M and Power 97 stated that they were pulling all Kiss songs from their lineup in protest.[47] Simmons later clarified his comments and apologized for the incident.[48]

Decline of music industry

In September 2014, Simmons said "The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered". Simmons blames file sharing and the fact that no one values music "enough to pay you for it" for the decline of the rock music scene.[49]

Film and television career

Simmons has been involved with such television projects as:

On March 9, 2011, Simmons and Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley and E! Entertainment announced that they have finalized a production and development deal to create an as-yet-untitled comedic half-hour kids' television series.[51] Simmons appeared as a psychic working at the Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice, California on the American hidden camera prank TV series I Get That a Lot.[52] He also guest-starred as himself in the 2014 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode Long Road Home. He also performed in the 1984 Michael Crichton thriller movie Runaway starring Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes and Kirstie Alley and the 1987 Gary Sherman movie Wanted: Dead or Alive starring Rutger Hauer.[53] In March 2015 founded the film production company Erebus Pictures[54] and announced as the first project was the Horror-thriller film Armed Response.[55]

Awards and recognition

On January 28, 2011, Simmons was in Dallas, Texas, to host the Aces & Angels Salute to the Troops charity event. While in Dallas, Simmons was presented the key to the city, and a street (Gene Simmons Boulevard) was named for him. Simmons and Tweed also visited the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood to support the Troops as a part of the Aces & Angels event. On June 15 of the same year he was given the key to the city in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2012, Simmons was awarded the Golden God award by the Revolver magazine.[56]

On October 30, 2013 during the KISS KRUISE 3, KISS Navy members John and Jamie Downs presented Gene Simmons with a plaque commemorating the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's acceptance of an autographed Gene Simmons Axe bass into their collection. The Smithsonian Museum's statement reads, in part: "The bass will now be cared for in our permanent collections... We are happy to include the Axe bass as it relates to the impact Mr. Simmons and his band KISS have had on American culture, especially in the creation of a unique and iconic brand that has been embraced by fans worldwide ... The story of Mr. Simmons' American experience deserves to be preserved. An immigrant and son of a holocaust survivor, he used creative vision and entrepreneurial acumen to make a significant impact for our nation's popular culture, becoming an iconic figure in American music and entertainment."[57]

Simmons is an honorary board member of Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit that works to restore and revitalize music education in disadvantaged U.S. public schools. A&E's Gene Simmons Family Jewels visited a Little Kids Rock classroom and featured the segment on the show. He also decorated a guitar for auction with his son Nick.[58]

On December 15, 2014, Simmons was awarded in Spain with the Golden Medal by the Reial Circle Artstic de Barcelona (Royal Artistic Circle of Barcelona).[59]


Year Film Role Bandmates Miscellaneous
1978 Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park The Demon Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley TV movie
1984 Runaway Dr. Charles Luther
1986 Trick or Treat Nuke (radio DJ)
1986 Never Too Young to Die Carruthers / Velvet Von Ragner
1987 Wanted: Dead or Alive Malak Al Rahim
1988 The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years Himself Paul Stanley Documentary
1989 Red Surf Doc
1999 Detroit Rock City Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Simmons also produced
2002 The New Guy Reverend
2002 Wish You Were Dead Vinny
2008 Detroit Metal City Jack lll Dark Japanese movie
2009 Extract[60] Joe Adler
2010 Expecting Mary Taylor
2010 Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage Himself Documentary
2013 Sample This: The Incredible Story of the Incredible Bongo Band Himself Documentary
2015 Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery The Demon Paul Stanley, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer Voice only
2016 We Are X Himself Documentary
2016 Temple TBA Post-production
2016 Why Him? Himself Paul Stanley Cameo
2017 Armed Response

Television appearances

Year Show Episode Role Bandmates Miscellaneous
1974 The Mike Douglas Show June 11, 1974 Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Kiss' first national television appearance, performed "Firehouse".
1976 The Paul Lynde Halloween Special October 29, 1976 Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Performed "Detroit Rock City," "King of the Night Time World," and "Beth"
1979 Tomorrow Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley
1985 Miami Vice "Prodigal Son" Newton Blade
1986 The Hitchhiker "O.D.Feelin'" January 28, 1986 Mr. Big
1997 Action League Now! "Rock-A-Big-Baby" Toy version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Performed "Rock and Roll All Nite"
1998 MADtv[61] October 31, 1998 (#406) Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley. Halloween special; performed in five sketches
1998 Millennium "...Thirteen Years Later" October 30, 1998 Hector Leachman Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley
2000 "That 70's Show" "Red sees Red" as The Devil
2001 Family Guy "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas" Animated version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley
2001 Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? May 27, 2001 Himself Won $32,000 for a charity
2001 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[62] June 12, 2001 Himself Almost licked Jon Stewart's face in response to Jon being unable to explain the difference between pleasure and joy to a man with a 'twelve-inch tongue'
2002 Family Guy "Road to Europe" Animated version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Lois Griffin claims she dated Gene Simmons while they were in high school, and calls him by his birth name, Chaim Witz.
2002 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno September 6, 2002 Himself
2003 King of the Hill "Reborn to Be Wild" Jessie
2004 Third Watch "Higher Calling" Donald Mann
2004 Third Watch "Monsters" Donald Mann
2004 Third Watch "More Monsters" Donald Mann
2005 American Idol "Auditions: New Orleans" Himself- guest judge
2005 Family Guy "Don't Make Me Over" Animated version of himself/ Prisoner No. 3
2005 Mind of Mencia Episode #1.7 Himself
2006 The View August 1, 2006 Himself Promotional appearance for Gene Simmons Family Jewels
2007 SpongeBob SquarePants "20,000 Patties Under the Sea" Sea Monster
2007 Shrink Rap "Gene Simmons" Himself UK's More4 show
2008 Entertainment Tonight January 2, 2008 Himself
2008 Jimmy Kimmel Live! January 18, 2008 Himself
2008 Rachael Ray March 11, 2008 Himself
2008 Criss Angel Mindfreak "Mindfreaking with the Stars" Himself
2008 Ugly Betty "The Kids Are Alright" Himself
2008 Ugly Betty "A Thousand Words by Friday" Himself
2008 Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Episode #3.9 Himself Won $500,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation charity
2008 The Celebrity Apprentice First three episodes Himself Won $20,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation charity; Fired in the third episode
2008 Jingles[63] Celebrity judge Mark Burnett reality show
2009 Glenn Martin DDS Glenn Gary, Glenn Martin himself
2009 American Idol Season Finale Himself Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley Performed medley of 3 songs with contestant Adam Lambert
2009 The Fairly OddParents "Wishology - Part 1: The Big Beginning" Animated version of himself Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley
2009 The Fairly OddParents "Wishology - Part 3: The Final Ending" Animated version of himself Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley
2010 I Get That a Lot Episode 2 As Himself Simmons appeared as a psychic working at the Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice, California
2010 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Episode 160 As Himself Kiss made a personal appearance during the Wagstaff family's vacation in Disneyland and honored them as special guests at one of their concerts. Kiss also made a personal appearance at a local school where a donation of new musical instruments was made in the Wagstaff family's name.
2010 I'm in a Rock 'n' Roll Band! Episode 1 And 5 As Himself Discussing the requirements of being in a rock band.
2011 Castle To Love and Die in LA As Himself
2014 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Long Road Home As Himself
2014 American Idol Season 13 Finale Himself Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley Performed with Caleb Johnson
2014 Welcome to Sweden S1 Ep4: Get a Job/Farthinder Himself
2015 Scorpion S2 Ep1: Himself 30 September 2015, Himself, Interview
2016 Angie Tribeca (2016 TBS TV Series) S1 Ep9: Himself

Video games

Year Video Game Role
2014 Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff Himself

Music video appearances

In 1994, Simmons appears as auditioning for the band with actor Al Lewis & comedian Gilbert Gottfried in a music video for "I'll Talk My Way Out Of It" by Howard Stern comedian Stuttering John. In 2007, he appeared alongside other celebrities, as well as regular people, in the music video for "Rockstar" by Nickelback.

Video game appearances

Gene Simmons is a playable character in Tony Hawk's Underground, unlocked when completing the story mode on Normal difficulty, and also appears with his Kiss bandmates in the Hotter Than Hell level to play one of three songs upon collecting the four K-I-S-S letters.

Gene Simmons' Kiss character, The Demon, is a playable character in Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child. Simmons also has a large role in the 2010 music video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. In addition to narrating the main storyline, voicing the character Demigod of Rock in cutscenes, and doing advertising for the game, the Kiss song "Love Gun" is playable.

Appears as The Demon in KISS Rock City




Publishing career

In 2002, Simmons launched Gene Simmons' Tongue, a men's lifestyle magazine.[64] The magazine lasted five issues before being discontinued.

Other ventures

In 1976-77, Simmons signed a management/production contract with the band Van Halen. He produced a Van Halen demo tape and attempted to find a record deal for the band with a variety of major record labels. When no deal materialised, he released them from their contract.[]

From 2006-2008, Simmons served in a marketing and publicity role with the Indy Racing League.[65]

In 2012, Simmons partnered with Paul Stanley and three other investors to form the restaurant franchise Rock & Brews.

In 2017, Simmons launched "The Vault" which is a compilation of all of his major works selling for $2,000.[66]

In 2018, Simmons was named as "Chief Evangelist Officer" of the Canadian cannabis company Invictus MD Strategies.[67] Simmons also holds a large investment stake in the company.[68]

Published works


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  12. ^ a b Biography Archived September 6, 2012, at Retrieved February 1, 2011.
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  19. ^ a b News Archived December 8, 2012, at Retrieved February 1, 2011.
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  22. ^ Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa, Barack Obama, The White House, May 19, 2011
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  26. ^ "IN PICTURES: Star-studded LA fundraiser rakes in $31 million for IDF". Retrieved 2017. 
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  30. ^ Mending Kids International (November 11, 2013). "Mending Kids International Honors Gene Simmons, Shannon Tweed-Simmons, Nick Simmons And Sophie... -- LOS ANGELES, Nov. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --". Retrieved 2015. 
  31. ^ Minnesota CBS local (June 22, 2017). "KISS Legend Gene Simmons' Twin Cities Charitable Connection". Retrieved 2017. 
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